Columbus, an Italian explorer, was one of the brave sailors who ventured out to find the sea route to India. He thought that one can go to the East via West also. Columbus started his journey to India and accidentally reached America (1492). As long as he lived, he was under the misconception that he had discovered the sea route to India. Hence, even today the natives of America are called ‘Red Indians’ and the island group in the Caribbean is known as the West Indies.
Indo-European trade through the Incense Route, Spice trade and the maritime silk road has been a key trade route for millennia. Here India refers to not just the modern day India, but the whole of South and South East Asia. This region shared common cultural, religion and linguistic roots.
By the middle of the 15th century, Western Europe acquired the tools and passion for sailing. They just needed a big reason now. The Turks provided them;
The fall of constantinople would both send shockwaves about Islamic domination and also make it even harder to do trade with India. Mongols had ensured free trade for a while and their exit has already made trade hard through land.
As the Portuguese royals were increasingly looking for new routes, a variety of Italians offered them ideas. A France born Italian guy named Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli proposed that they should sail west and they would hit India eventually. The king thought it would be too long. In 1488 he got the alternative route to the Indian Ocean by a guy named Bartolomeu Dias.
Columbus took upon Toscanelli’s plan and seeing that the Portuguese crown was still looking for the route via Africa, however Vasco da Gama succeeded in that route in 1497 – five years after Columbus landed in America.